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Kaija SAARIAHO (b. 1952) Graal Théâtre (1995) Château de l’Ame (1996)² Amers (1992)³ Gidon Kremer (violin); Dawn Upshaw (soprano)²; Anssi Karttunen (cello)³; BBC Symphony Orchestra; members of the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra²; Avanti! Chamber Orchestra³; Esa-Pekka Salonen Recorded: Maida Vale Studio 1, London, June 1996 (Graal Théâtre); Hall of Culture, Helsinki, June 2000 (Château de l’Ame) and Recording Studio, Finnish Broadcasting Corporation, Helsinki, June 1998 (Amers) SONY SK 60817 [71:31] [HC]

This release is a wonderful tribute to this most distinguished composer whose superbly crafted music, even at its most demanding, is capable of deeply-felt emotions. Unreservedly recommended.

Nicholas SACKMAN (born 1950) String Quartet No.2 (1990/1) George NICHOLSON (born 1949) String Quartet No.3 (1995) The Bochmann Quartet Recorded : Nottingham University, May 1997
METIER MSV CD 92016 [46:10] [HC]

The Bochmann prove inspired and dedicated performers in these substantial additions to the British string quartet canon.

Esa-Pekka SALONEN (b. 1958) LA Variations (1996/7) Five Images after Sappho (1999)² Giro (1981, rev. 1997) Mania (2000/1)² Gambit (1998) Dawn Upshaw (soprano); Anssi Karttunen (cello); Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; London Sinfonietta²; Esa-Pekka Salonen Recorded: Royce Hall, Los Angeles, January 2000; Air Studios, London, June 2000 (Five Images) and Henry Wood Hall, London, December 2000 (Mania) SONY SK 89158 [75:13] [HC]

Salonen’s brilliantly successful conducting career has somewhat overshadowed his composing activities. The present release, mostly of recent pieces, helps put the balance straight again

Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660-1725) Sedecia, re di Gerusalemme Oratorio in two parts (Rome, 1706) Sedecia - Gérard Lesne Anna - Virginie Pochon Ismaele - Philippe Jaroussky Nabucco - Peter Harvey Nadabbe - Mark Padmore Il Seminario Musicale, Gérard Lesne direction. Rec: November 1999, Ecole Sainte-Geneviève, Versailles, France. VIRGIN CLASSICS 7243 5 45452 2 1 [94.18] CD1 46:54 Part One CD2 47:22 Part Two[KM]

This recording contains some fine music and excellent performances, but the work itself lacks overall unity, sounding more like a collection of arias than a coherent work.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder: Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano) Graham Johnson (piano) Martin Isepp (piano), Geoffrey Parsons (piano), Rec : 2nd October 1977, The Maltings, Snape, 20th April 1970, St John's Smith Square, London 1st September 1980, Usher Hall, Edinburgh BBC LEGENDS BBCL 4070-2 [73.06] [TB]

Janet Baker's interpretations of Schubert are by now legendary, but these recordings from broadcast performances are not widely known. They are marvellous, and fully worthy of her name.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Lieder (7 CDs) Great Schubert Singers Die Schöne Mullerin [61.47] Peter Schreier, tenor; Walter Olbertz, piano Die Winterreise [76.26] Robert Holl, bass-baritone; Naum Grubert, piano Schwanengesang [51.38] John Shirley-Quirk, baritone; Steuart Bedford, piano 15 Lieder [56.26] Gundula Janowitz, soprano; Charles Spencer, piano Goethe-lieder [54.48] Arleen Augér, soprano; Walter Olbertz, piano 19 Lieder [74.05] Sarah Walker, mezzo-soprano; Roger Vignoles, piano 16 Lieder [54.48] Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Hartmut Höll, piano Detailed contents listed at end of review Rec: 1974, 1995, 1977, 1989, 1978, 1989, 1987. BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99443 [approx. 430 min.] [KM]

All in all, this bargain set is a wonderful collection of recordings of Schubert's lieder. As an introduction, it will allow you to discover seven of the finest singers of this music.

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Adagio and Rondo concertante in F, piano, violin, viola and cello, D.487, 3 Minuets for wind nonet, String Trio in B flat (unfinished), D.471, Octet for wind in F (unfinished), D.72 Anselm HÜTTENBRENNER (1794-1868) String Quintet in C minor Consortium Classicum/Dieter Klöcker Recorded 1977 CPO 999 801-2 [65.34] [CH]

The Hüttenbrenner is a very likeable piece and the Schubert pieces are rare with the performances at least adequate.

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Symphony No. 1 in B flat, Op. 38, 'Spring'. Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Sinfonia domestica, Op. 53. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Dimitri Mitropoulos. Recorded live at the Festspielhaus, Salzburg on August 28th, 1957. ORFEO FESTSPIELDOKUMENTE C565011B [mono] [ADD] [75.24] [CC]

This remarkable concert concluded the Salzburg Festival of 1957. Mitropoulos' readings offer a must-hear, never less than fascinating experience.

Robert SCHUMANN(1810-1856) Liederkreis and Kerner-lieder Christoph Prégardien, tenor, Michael Gees, piano Rec: January - February 1995, Reitstadel, Neumarkt, Germany. RCA RED SEAL 74321 73235 2 [73.58] [KM]

One of the finest tenors singing German lieder. Another excellent collection of songs showing the wide range of emotions at Prégardien's expressive command. A recording that deserves the attention of all fans of German lieder.

Robert SCHUMANN Album fur die Jugend Op 68 Rico Gulda piano Recorded December 2000 Bosendorfer Hall Vienna NAXOS 8.555711 [76.09] [JW]

Not to decry Gulda’s playing which is often thoroughly convincing; ultimately though it lacks Schumannesque acuity and never really reaches the state of true simplicity.

Déodat de SÉVERAC (1873-1921) Sunflower Sea - The Piano works of Déodat de Séverac Le Chant de la Terre, En Languedoc, Les Naïades et le Faune Indiscret (Danse Nocturne), Baigneuses au Soleil, Cerdaña, En Vacances I , En Vacances II , Stances à Madame de Pompadour Izumi Tateno (piano) Recorded at Kokkola, Finland, 5th-8th June 2001 FINLANDIA 8573-87181-2 CDs [144:01] [IL]

A wonderfully evocative, mostly rustic/pastoral compilation, exquisitely played with every shade and nuance nicely judged. These are slowly evolving, richly detailed musical portraits best savoured when completely relaxed.

RAVI SHANKAR - Full Circle Two Ragas Ravi Shankar - Sitar, Anoushka Shankar - Sitar, Bikram Gosh - Tabla, Tanmoy Bose - Tabla, Ajay Sharma - Tanpura and Barry Phillips - Tanpura. Ragas Kaushi Kanharra and Mishra Gara. Recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York 6 October 2000. EMI CDC5 57106-2 [54.51] [JP]

Here we have a brand new offering from Ravi Shankar and his family, friends and colleagues. This disc has given me a tremendous amount of sheer pleasure.

Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 10 in E Minor , Symphony No. 6 in E Minor Dallas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton recorded live September 21 - 24, November 30, and December 1 - 2, 2000 in Dallas. DELOS DE 3283 [82.39] - 2 discs nas. Special price [JP]

These two discs will clearly suit hi-fi addicts and the general listener who is not looking to be shattered by either of these powerful works. I would therefore recommend them with caution. [JP]
Maybe this Tenth hasn’t quite the raw power and energy of Mravinsky or Mitropoulos, but how many have? No, this disc contains as cogent and well argued an account as one could reasonably expect to hear. The playing is of a very high standard throughout and the recorded sound is in the demonstration class. [JQ]

Dimitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) Symphony No. 14, Op. 135 (1969) Joan Rodgers, soprano John Tomlinson, bass. BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Mark Wigglesworth recorded in St. Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol, 18-19 March 1999. DDD BIS BIS-CD1173 [56.34] [JP]

A superb performance by all concerned; a worthy addition to the catalogue.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) 'The Complete Symphonies' Symphonies 1-7, Symphony No. 5 (original 1915 version and final version) Tapiola Lahti SO/Osmo Vänskä rec 1996-1997, Church of the Cross (Ristinkirkko), Lahti, Finland
4 CDs for price of 3 BIS CD-1286-1288 [287.30] [RB]

Many great things in this set and the original version of the Fifth Symphony is no academic makeweight. The closest approach to a single recommendable set.

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957) Youth Production for Solo Piano Volume 2 The study Years in Helsinki 1888 -1889 (tracks 1-20) Studies in Berlin under Albert Becker 1889 -1890 (tracks 21-26) Studies in Berlin under Robert Fuchs and Karl Goldmark 1890-1891 (tracks 27-29) Folke Gräsbeck (piano) Recorded 2000 BIS CD 1202 [69.20] [CF]

This is a disc which will delight the Sibelius anoraks.

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Till Eulenspiegel, Waltz Sequences: Der Rosenkavalier, Don Juan, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra Eugen Jochum Death and Transfiguration RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra Fritz Reiner Also Sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldeleben Chicago Symphony Orchestra Fritz Reiner Rec (Jochum), 1984; (Reiner Death and Transfiguration), 1950; (Reiner Zarathustra and Heldenleben), 1954 RCA Red Seal 74321 846082 [2CDs: 72.42 & 75.35] [TB]

This two-CD set from French RCA includes some particularly interesting performances. Reiner is of course one of the great Strauss conductors, and this is confirmed by his three performances, which are particularly well directed and paced.

Arthur SULLIVAN (1842-1900) The Golden Legend - cantata Janice Watson (sop), Jean Rigby (mezzo), Mark Wilde (ten), Jeffrey Black (bar), Jonathan Brown (ten) London Chorus, New London Symphony Orchestra, Ronald Corp Rec: All Saints Church, Tooting, London; Feb. 2001 HYPERION CDA67280 [94.47] [RW]

The fresh-sounding and youthful Watson and Wilde sparkle. Black gives the ideally raspy quality needed for the evil Lucifer. The reading by Ronald Corp is magnificent. The New London Chorus and Orchestra tackle the work with energy and enthusiasm. This set is a gem.

Johan Severin SVENDSEN (1840-1911) Symphony no. 1, op. 4 (1865-6) Symphony no. 2, op. 15 (1876) Polonaise no. 2, op. 28 (1881) Danish National Radio SO/Thomas Dausgaard Recorded 16-18 and 22-24/08/2000 in Danish Radio Concert Hall, Copenhagen CHANDOS CHAN 9932 [75.25] [CH]

These symphonies are not quite masterpieces but they are more than just easy-listening and could be widely enjoyed. Conductor and orchestra are energetic, delicate and romantic as required.

Johan SVENDSEN (1840-1911) Symphony No.1 in D major Op.4 Symphony No.2 in Bb major Op.15 Norwegian Radio Orchestra/Ari Rasilainen Recorded at NRK Broadcasting Hall, Oslo, Norway in June 1996 TELDEC APEX 0927 40621 2 [71.10] [CF]

Commandingly attractive performances, particularly in the rustic, witty scherzettos, with bustling energetic playing by the excellent woodwind section. An attractive buy.

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893) String Quartets Volume 1 No 1 in D Major Op 11, No 2 in F major Op 22 New Haydn Quartet, Budapest Recorded Unitarian Church Budapest from 2 to 5 October 1995 NAXOS 8.550847 (66.35) [JW]

Recommendation must remain with the Borodin (Melodiya) but Naxos has given us a reasonable and plausible cheap alternative.

Ernst TOCH (1887-1964) String Quartets – No. 11, Op. 34 (1924); No. 13, Op. 74 (1953). Buchberger String Quartet. Recorded in the Evangelische Kirche, Köln-Rondorf on March 22nd-24th, 1999 (Op. 34) and May 10th-12th, 1999 (Op. 74). [DDD] CPO 999 687-2 [55.35] [CC]

The Buchberger Quartet brings a luminous conviction to these performances which makes this disc unmissable. The fact that CPO are issuing the disc at their ‘Special Price’ is just the icing on the cake.

Veljo TORMIS (b.1930) Childhood Memory (Herding Calls) for soprano and male chorus (1982) Voices from Tammsaare's Herdboy Days - documentary cantata for male chorus, soloists, phonogram and percussion (1977) Songs of the Ancient Sea (1979) North Russian Bylina for male chorus and soloists (1976) Conscript's Escape from Toompea Castle Home to Kuusalu (1969) Vepsian Winter for male chorus (1984) God Protect Us From War for male chorus and tam-tam (1984) Estonian National Male Chorus/Olev Oja rec 1994, Tallinn, Estonia FORTE CLASSICS - ARTISTS ONLY! AOR-17 [50.36] [RB]

A refreshingly different musical experience. If you are jaded with the Anglican choral tradition do try to track down this disc.

Eduard TUBIN (1905-1982) Symphony No 10 (1973) Symphony No 6 (1954) Estonian National SO (Sym 10); Estonian Radio SO (Sym 6) cond Neeme Järvirec 1979 stereo (Sym 10); 1962 mono (Sym 6) FORTE CLASSICS AOR-16 [58.35] [RB]

These are extremely valuable recordings encoding the music as it arose, hot from the composer's pen, and amongst the forces for which it was originally written. If the 1979 analogue taping of No. 10 lacks the transparency and concussion of a modern digital version it compromises nothing in the sense of being there.

Knut VAAGE ((b 1961) Movements; Hexa; Transit; Jug Band Rag* BIT 20 Ensemble/ Ingar Bergby/Ricardo Odriozola* Rec 2000, HRK Hordaland AURORA ACD 509 [60.00] [PGW]

An invigorating collection of recent compositions by an active member of the new music fraternity in Norway - - regularity overlaid by unpredictable strands, and elements of improvisation which carry transformation 'beyond the limits of jazz'.

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872 - 1958) Sir John in Love (1924/8) Donald Mitchell, baritone (Falstaff); Laura Claycomb, soprano (Mrs Page); Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano (Mrs Ford); Anne-Marie Owens, mezzo-soprano (Mrs Quickly); Matthew Best, bass (Mr Ford); Roderick Williams, baritone (Mr Page); Stephen Varcoe, baritone (Sir Hugh Evans); Adrian Thompson, tenor (Dr Caius); Stephen Loges, baritone (Host of the Garter); Susan Gritton, soprano (Anne Page); Mark Padmore, tenor (Fenton) Sinfonia Chorus and the Northern Sinfonia/Richard Hickox Recorded: Jubilee Hall, Newcastle, December 2000 CHANDOS CHAN 9928 [68:05 + 68:34] [HC]

Hickox's reading has the benefit of richer, warmer sound and you will be in for a glorious musical experience

John VEALE (b. 1922) Violin Concerto (1984?) [35.33] Benjamin BRITTEN(1913-1976) Violin Concerto (1939) [34.20] Lydia Mordkovich (violin) BBCSO/Richard Hickox rec Blackheath Halls, London, 29-30 Nov 2000 CHANDOS CHAN 9910 [69.57] [RB]

This is a gorgeous disc that will have you reassessing the Britten and embracing the Veale concerto.[RB]Chandos have once again put us in their debt by releasing this superbly recorded and impressively committed performance of the John Veale Violin Concerto.[PC]

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901) Alzira Slobodan Stankovic (bass) Alvaro, Paolo Gavanelli (bass) Gusmano, Jovo Reljin (tenor) Ovando, Ram¢n Vargas (tenor) Zamoro, Wolfgang Barta (bass) Ataliba, Marina Mescheriakova (soprano) Alzira, Jana Iliev (mezzo) Zuma, Torsten Kerl (tenor) Otumbo Choeur du Grand Théâtre de Genève L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Fabio Luisi Rec 29 June - 2 July 1999, Victoria Hall, Geneva PHILIPS 464 628-2PH2 [2CDs: 91.38] [TB]

This opera will not make an impact on the world's stages as the result of this new recording, but listening to it will bring rewards to anyone sensitive to Verdi's greatness, and it is hard to think of many music lovers who do not come into that category.

Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901) Ernani - Opera in four parts Julian Gavin (tenor) Alan Opie (baritone) Peter Wedd (tenor) Peter Rose (bass) Susan Patterson (soprano) Helen Williams (soprano) Paul Hodges (bass) English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus / David Parry Recorded Blackheath Halls 12 - 16 July 2000 DDD CHANDOS OPERA IN ENGLISH CHAN3052(2) CD1 [66.50] CD2 [65.11] [RM]

An excellent set - full of honour, passion, revenge and tragedy.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) Symphoniesa No. 6, 'Sobre a linha das Montanhas do Brasil'; No. 8. Suite pour cordesb. SWR Radio-Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart/Carl St. Clair. Recorded in the Stadthalle, Sindelfingen on aFebruary 17th-21st, 1997, bApril 18th, 2001. [DDD] CPO 999 517-2 [69.20] [CC]

Proof of how much worthwhile music there is still to discover. The influences on Villa-Lobos are subsumed under one vast, Brazilian umbrella. A superb disc, and one which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959) String Quartets - Volume Six.
String Quartet No. 4 (1917) String Quartet No. 9 (1945)String Quartet No. 11 (1948) Cuarteto LatinamericanoRecorded 1998, Bolivia? (DDD) DORIAN RECORDINGS DOR 93229 [79.23]

Why wasn’t I given the previous volumes to review? This is the final volume and contains the finest of Villa Lobos’s quartets.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741) Juditha triumphans 1716. Magdalena Kozena, mezzo-soprano, Juditha; Maria José Trullu, contralto, Holofernes; Marina Comparato, soprano, Vagaus; Anke Herrman, mezzo-soprano, Abra; Tiziana Carraro, mezzo-soprano, Ozias; Academia Montis Regalis; Chamber Choir of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia. Conductor: Alessandro de Marchi
Recording in October 2000, Instituto de Musica Antica Adademia Montis Regalis, Mondovi, Italy. OPUS 111 OP 30314 [3 CDs: 165.30] [FC]

This flair for orchestration plus charging this oratorio with high drama makes this one of Vivaldi's undisputed masterpieces. It is not without reason that the record label, Opus 111, has chosen this work to lead off their announced project to record the entire works of this composer.

Antonio VIVALDI (1668-1741) Six concertos from Il Cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Invenzione Op. 8:- The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (RV269, 315, 293, 297) Storm at Sea RV253 Pleasure RV180 Massimo Quarta (violin) Yuko Tanaka (harpsichord continuo) Moscow Chamber Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian rec 13-16 Sept 2000, Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California DELOS DE 3280 [56.32] [RB]

Glitzy velour style, with brilliance in abundance, slow slow-movements and 'hyper' faster movements. Recording to match.

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741) String Concertos, Volume 2 Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage Rec: October 2000, All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London. CHANDOS CHAN 0668 [65.40] [KM]

While the performance and sound are excellent, this disc suffers from an overall lack of musical qualities. While those wanting to own all of Vivaldi’s works will certainly want this recording, others may just as well abstain.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1862-1868) Theo Adam (bar) - Hans Sachs; Karl Ridderbusch (ten) - Veit Pogner; Geraint Evans (ten) - Sixtus Beckmesser; Rene Kollo (ten) - Walther von Stolzing; Peter Schreier (ten) - David; Helen Donath (sop) - Eva; Ruth Hesse (mz) - Magdelene; Choirs of Staatsoper Dresden and Leipzig Radio Dresden Staatskapelle/Herbert von Karajan Rec: November and December 1970 - Lukaskirche, Dresden EMI Great Recordings of The Century CMS5 67086 2 [4 CDs: 4.25.50] [TD]

This is the reference recording for this opera and the first choice.

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Tristan & Isolde (1865) Tristan - Ludwig Suthaus (tenor) Isolde - Kirsten Flagstad (soprano) Brangäne - Blanche Thebom (soprano) King Mark - Josef Greindl (bass) Kurwenal - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler Recorded 9-23 June 1952, Kingsway Hall, London EMI Great Recordings of the Century, CMS5 67621 2 - 4 discs [67.05, 68.16, 64.28, 56.07] Mid Price [MB]

Listening to this performance again, in this beautifully remastered version, it is difficult to argue with history. Despite wonderful performances from Böhm, Karajan, Knappertsbusch and both Kleibers the Furtwängler holds its own as one of the supreme achievements of the Gramophone.

Christoph Ernst Friedrich WEYSE (1774-1842) Sovedrikken (The Sleeping Draught): An early romantic opera Guido Paevatalu, Eva Hess Thaysen, Elsebeth Dreisig, Gert Henning-Jensen, Michael Kristensen, Johan Reuter, Tina Kilberg, Stig Fogh Andersen, Sten Byriel; Sokkelund Sangkor & The Danish Radio Sinfonietta/Giordano Bellincampi Rec. 1999/2000, Danish Radio Concert Hall, Denmark DA CAPO 8.224149/50 [CD1 57.51, CD2 38.35] [RW]

The score is bright, carries warm harmonies and is fast moving with enjoyable themes, and catchy motifs. The soloists sing their roles with panache. The sound is crisp and well balanced so that every nuance can be heard Sinfonietta. An exciting and extremely pleasurable work.

John WILLIAMS (b. 1932) Treesong (2000) Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (1974-76, rev. 1998) Three Pieces from Schindler's List (1993) Gil Shaham (violin), Boston Symphony Orchestra, John Williams Recorded Boston 1999 & 2000 - Full Price DG 471 362-2 [66.05] [MB]

This beautiful disc should win quite a few admirers - both for the music and for the soloist, Gil Shaham. Shaham is probably the finest violinist of his generation.

Alexander ZEMLINSKY (1871-1942) Symphony in B flat (1897) Prelude to Es War Einmal (1899) (original version - world premiere recording) Sinfonietta (1934) Czech PO/Antony Beaumont rec Dvorak Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague, 18-20 Jan 2001 NIMBUS NI 5682 [70.15] [RB]

This disc sounds well with no shortcomings interpretatively speaking - a case of music illuminated by a lifetime of study. The Czech PO are polished and have the necessary élan. Predictably their woodwind are everything you could wish for.

Carl Michael ZIEHRER (1843-1922) Selected Dances & Marches Vol. 3 Razumovsky Sinfonia, Christian Pollack Rec. Slovak Radio Concert Hall, Bratislava; June 2000 MARCO POLO 8.225172 [75.55] [RW]

J. Strauss lovers will enjoy the gaiety of the music. The acoustics are ideally suited to the ambience of a ballroom with the strings forward focused and the brass nicely softened. One can mentally visualise a Viennese scene in the 1890s.

[Part 1 New]  [Part 2 A-B] [Part 3 C-L]
[Part 4 M-R]  [Part 5 S-Y] [Part 6 Misc]   

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